OK, now it’s time we really get to warmer places. Bye bye Colorado, it’s been great, really loved this state. Back to Utah and Arches National Park, here we come! We took scenic route 128 towards Moab, and scenic it was. You drive by the the Colorado river, from fairly flat lands rather suddenly into a big red canyon, awesome!
We go and explore Arches NP for a bit before settling for the night as we plan on doing a big hike the following day. One thing already is clear to us, this is a busy busy place. I would have thought things wouldn’t be so busy late in October, I mean, the guide books say it’s busiest between June and the end of September… and that one week that is Utah Education Week (or something) when all the schools are out and everybody seems to descend onto Moab. Yes, that was the week.


After a bit of research and a talk with a friendly ranger, we decided to take a hike in the Devil’s Garden area of the park. It’s a hike with lots of scrambling over rocks and uneven paths, or no real paths whatsoever. It’s listed under difficult, but seeing as it isn’t too long at 11km, and we like scrambling, it seemed like the right one for us.
As we were hiking, we chose to take part of the hike in the opposite direction that most would take, mainly because this meant we had to do the whole 11km and have the fun scrambling part first. Otherwise, if we had done the hike in the traditional direction, we might have decided at the final junction that we had enough already and not do that part. But doing the hike in the wrong direction presented us with a little difficulty, it was clearly not signposted for this direction. This we noticed at one point where it seemed we could go no further, the path became too narrow, down didn’t seem possible, and certainly not up. So we retraced out steps, did we miss a turn? Eventually, we waited a bit as we could hear other hikers in the distance, so let’s see where they came from. Ah, they came from up. How is that possible? That’s way too steep? Oh well, they managed to come down, so we shall go up.

Off we go!

Niels goes first, telling me to look closely so I can follow him. Well, that’s what I do and get all confused. What the hell is he doing? His feet are all wrong and he keeps getting stuck. I climb up, trying to figure out what the problem is. Well, it is really steep and quite scary, but I think manageable. But by that point Niels has gone into panic mode. A strange form of vertigo has taken over, he’s never had that problem before. But we now find ourselves stuck onto a little ledge, unable to go any further. But just like when I was in my hour of need in Yellowstone, there came some hikers to the rescue. A couple who had done this hike several times, in both directions, and who were very agile on the steep rocks offered their help. I still don’t understand what happened to Niels, it was just too weird to watch. He kept putting his feet in the wrong direction, he kept fearing he would slide off, which was pretty much a given with his feet like that. So he kept going down on his knees, trying to pull himself up by his hands, … But eventually, with the help of the couple of rescuers, he made it passed the most difficult part. Luckily, I went up without too much hassle and actually felt rather exhilarated that I had made it. Niels on the other hand, was sitting there, still shaking and not quite knowing what to do next.

Not the way to go…

The “trail” from above

Not so happy Niels :-(

After a little while, lots of water and a bit of lunch, we got on our way again. Despite the fact that he managed to hurt his knees quite a bit, everything seemed fine again…
Until we got to the half way point and relaxed for a bit while chatting with a fun group of people from Utah. As we wanted to get going, Niels found himself in no position to move, he just couldn’t get up. True, we were high up, but nothing as steep as the last time. A little help from the friendly people around, and we were on our way. That was until we had to walk over one of those fins, they are about 10ft wide, with steep drop offs on both sides, but nothing to worry about normally, perfectly safe. I went on ahead so Niels could keep an eye on me and see where best to step. Then all of the sudden he just decided to sit down and couldn’t go on. Luckily, some of the Utah group were just behind and helped Niels up again, and got him over the fin by distracting him with conversation. They managed to distract him so well, that he didn’t even realise that I was having trouble getting of fin at the end as it was a bit high and could do with a hand to lean on!
It was such a weird experience, Niels still doesn’t know what overcame him. But we got through it. By the end of the walk, I was getting rather tired, but I knew my friends Ben & Jerry were waiting for me in the RV.

Looks a bit like a cruise ship

Made it!

One Response to “Niels vs. the Rock”

  • eileen & jim says:

    …I can definitely empathize with Niels…having majored in Geology in college I wore out the knees and the asses of many pair of Levis 501s going down mountains! The fear really is paralyzing!! Glad it all worked out and you had a great hike!! :-)

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